Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Living Reminder of History

I ran across this letter (clicking will download an Adobe .pdf version) this weekend while going thru an old box of my great grandfather's materials (My Dad's, father's father) - Ernst Laqueur. Ernst was the founder of Organon, N.L. a pharmaceutical company in Holland and Germany (now known as Akzo Nobel). He did pioneering endocrine research in the 1920's and 30's and eventually isolated and named the hormone "testosterone".

In short, the Nazi's saw potential in his work for "Aryan Race science" and seized the company throwing half his children in concentration camps, allowing the other half to leave as a way to control Professor Laqueur and maintain his interest in the research. He died in 1947 along with our family's control of the company and it's fortunes. But in August 1945, just after the war ended, his wife sent this letter (one of the few pieces I found in English) to my Grandfather and Grandmother living in Argentina where they had fled and where my father was born.

In the letter my Great Grandmother details news of family and friends - some straggling back to Amsterdam, those who had gone into hiding, those lost in the camps, etc. It's just one short letter from one family member to another, among probably thousands that were sent from family to family in those days as people struggled to regain a normal life. But one that really brings home the impact of those times and a good reminder of how precious freedom is, how lucky we are today to have it, and how vigilant we must remain if we are to keep it.

- JP

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